Two miles after I left the barn on Saturday morning I realized that I had left my camera bag on the work bench. It was impossible to back track so I made the ride without a camera realizing I would just have to be descriptive with my words in an effort make a verbal image. This is the first(and only) self portrait that I have created with my brand new eyephone. Yes, I now have an eyephone because of some new work that I started doing last week. More on that later.
It was a strange to see my morning commute from a Saturday perspective at 0655hr. To my right and then back as I turned off of Lawyers onto the gutter of Albemarle, the earth's fifteen thousand mile an hour lunge forward through the cosmos spinning on axis towards the glowing hot sun gave the illusion that the star was actually rising off of the asphalted horizon. A light that I usually see an hour later in the morning on weekdays looked entirely different. There was no traffic, maybe a total of a dozen cars across the full length of the Albemarlean Traverse. Orange filtered sun beams bounced off of whatever was in their way and where they could not reach were many dark shadows around corners and in the adjacent tree lines running perpendicular to the sprawl. When I looked over on the left from the seat of my bike surfing the no pride walk, an empty KFC was being blasted by light which reminded me of the drug that it is. The inbound scene was a picture perfect of failure and could of doubled for a few of the back drops in the film, The Road. A song came into my head half way across to the South End, it was music I had never heard but I knew it. No words at first just the rhythm of being alone and riding on an apocalyptic ready landscape.
I made the Cool & Cool where Yurgen met me for Coffee, tea and a custom egg sandwich, each slightly different but both had been driven through the garden. We rolled out on a printed 16.3mi cue in my pocket for Mount Hollywood on a hill just west of the Catawba river. I made the route the day before by using Google.com/maps' bicycle option. I had already thought out my route to MHW in my head without the computer thinking that what I was seeing in my mind was not necessarily the shortest way but it would be the safest. As it turned out the googlemaps sent us out of the South End and onto Freedumb Drive for a few hundred feet before we turned right on Thrift and ran parallel to Freedumb by ditty bopping through the real city of Charlotte. I had never seen this quiet morning hood before. We stayed mainly in the morning shadows of tall oak trees and street front buildings along Tuckaseegee Rd. Seems like the first ten miles of the cue had us making a turn every few hundred meters. We passed CONStar, a plastic bottle manufacturing company on Tar Heal Road, their tattered American Banner was flying high in the hot morning breeze on a rusty pole near the even more rusty buildings of the facility. The illusion was there within this industrial section of Charlotte that I had never explored before. Not a single auto snake troll did we meet or pass as the evergreen tree lined road meandered quietly in front of us. A business park of logistics, storage, chemical distribution and retail gas all the way to Paw Creek still with no cars. Paw Creek had a tiny little Post Office along the tracks that was dwarfed by the fuel tanks on the same street. BP was there as were another few local and regional names, it looked like a smaller version of what I used to often see in New Haven Connecticut along the water. Tank Town rolling through the back way across the river.
There was only one sketchy section that lasted for under two miles of our route. We rolled in across the river into the small downtown of our destination in one hour. For some reason I had cushioned our departure time a bit too much which left us an hour and a half to occupy our time. As luck would have it we came upon a little down town farmers market that had a pop up tent set up in the center of the little quad. I walked towards it only to be interrupted by a little woman around my age who attempted to scold me from under the brim of an over sized straw hat with her authoritarian reproach for something that did not matter. People like that get on my nerves and I am no longer afraid to make them aware of that fact when the situation arises. I found a seat next to a Blue Grass Circle forming of about seven or eight players. Acoustic Mountain music filled the air around me with songs like, Wash in the Blood of the Lamb and There's More than One Pretty Girl in the World. Something frozen and colorful made of local fruit on a wooden stick wound up in my hand. The small local crowd looked unique under the cooling white light being filtered through the even more white fabric of the nylon tent. A man a few feet away with his mouth slightly agape continued to stare at Yurgen and I as if we were foreigners, our summer beards a complete give away. As I studied this older gray headed man I could not help but notice that his humongous mutton gut compost was shaped like the back of a baby elephant pushing outward against his shirt front. I thought to myself that maybe he had a tape baby elephant, like tape worm, only much bigger. Voice and Clarity intertwined not only within me but in all directions surrounding me.
It was time to leave for the last few miles to our destination which was a church where we were going to be part of The Celebration of life for Matt Goelzer. I do not feel comfortable to attempt a descriptive of the events that took place during the celebration but I will say this, my immediate response: Be You it All Full or translated from crack speak to Beautiful. I was happy to see the cloud synchro against a blue sky and even bluer ocean painted on a giant mural at the front of the chamber. I ran in to multiple smart people that I have known and ridden with from as far back as 1993, including an original member of the even more original Statesville based Stem Posse. I also saw Sweetness and as well wound up putting a name with the face of Vance whom has been lurking the corridors of the uptoon for years on his high end road rigs of which at least one is armed with carbon four cross wheels. The encounter felt spiritual on a level that I rarely have the chance to experience. Truth.
Yurgen and I rolled away with Sweet Rob behind us in his car as lead auto from the back. I decided after checking with my wing man that we would ride a completely different route back, a modification of my original pre-computer aided cue in reverse. It was a more gorilla approach back to the Jar but it offered what I felt was less turns and a more direct transfer to the Cool & Cool. We climbed from the church up and over the I-Hatey Five Corridor and down to the 74 in the bottoms. Yurgen led us east back over the river and on the climb out just passed the run down inoperable weigh station loud southern rock started to blare from behind a wooden fortress wall high up on a slanted kudzu covered hill. What ever was going on up there frightened me at that moment. Up over the first climb right and through the trailer park baking on both sides of the road in the sun. Swooping green low traffic descent down over a creek and then another climb with turns and steps and steps and turns up to Old Dowd road. There had been big commercial planes flying in and out over our heads all day long. We must had gone under three separate flight paths twice each by the time we reached Old Dowd. The aircraft looked ominous, being clearly filtered by the haze they were helping to create just a few hundred feet over our heads. In a bend we stopped so Yurgen could make an image as these monster metallic human transports rained down exhaust on us in 3-4min intervals. After the fourth fly over we left to jump back on the 74 for the few miles up to Moorehead Street. On the 74 traverse my eyes started to burn and I am not exactly sure why even though I know that I did not have gel in my hair. At one point the burning sensation was so bad in my left eye that I had to keep it closed while riding and I could barely see out of the other one. I wondered if I had gotten gas in my eyes while I watched the under bellies of the airliners descend above me. Yurgen was wearing glacier glasses with the side patches and may have avoided the spill into his visual cortex. I on the other hand may have been a victim of my own stupidity. We completed our lariat back to the Cool in what felt like no time at all.
I immediately saw myself in the mirror and what I saw was strange. My eyes had lightened two shades of hazel to almost green and the whites of my eyes were blood red and hazy looking. Shit, I thought to myself as the cool water from the Cool eased the pain which was now set in. Time passed and a Belgium real Beer came by that was infused with some sort of refreshing summer time fruit. It may have been apple or peach that gave the brew a clean happy cold flavor. A few folks gathered round and told stories of recent experiences in their lives, of friends and how important it is to recognize the light within each of us. Rosemary bread appeared in a paper sack that I stuffed into my messenger bag for the ride out out if there. Rain passing with dark clouds hit the street all around me as the fenders kept the spray off of my back. I could see many clouds rolling out of the south and west in the early evening sky. Some were wispy thin and others solid thickly animated. The theme of clouds kept on in a representation of human emotion moving through this thing called life.